Rainy day driving around the countryside of Dalat

Trip Start Jul 08, 2009
Trip End Aug 31, 2009

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Where I stayed
Hotel Binh Yen (Dalat)

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dalat is a beautiful city just 7 hours north in the mountains of Vietnam. The bus ride was really smooth.  I was on a large charter bus just like you'd see in the states chartering people for longer distances. It rained most of the way up here but it didn’t interfere with the beauty of Dalat. Dalat is a small town surrounded by mountains. My lonely planet guide book says that you would almost think you’ve stumbled into the French Alps in the spring time.

When I first arrived here I met another traveler who was meeting up with some friends. I asked if I could tag along to see if they have extra rooms. Some local guys give us rides on their motorbikes. They kept saying it’s free, it’s free, come on. I’m always leery about that but against my better judgment I went along. I arrived at the hotel, liked my $6 room and booked it. Inside they had free internet where this girl from England was friendly enough to tell me the ropes about this town. She said you can book a tour through the hotel and go via minivan or you can hire a motorbike guy for $15 and they’ll take you around. She then grabbed the guy that gave me a free ride to my hotel and said that he was one of the guys that can take me around.   So I finally understood why he gave us a free lift to the hotel so that I would book a tour with him the next day. Very smart business move.  

So today at 8:30am I was ready for him to show up. Just me, him, his motorbike, and a WHOLE LOT OF RAIN. L That’s right, rain. It rained the whole stinking day.  We started off by going to Lat village which is the starting point to go hiking. Since it was raining we obviously did not do that. I did meet with a local who shared with me some interesting  stories. Such as in Dalat the majority of people are either Christian or Catholic compared to Saigon where they are Buddhist. Also, when it comes time to marrying the women gives the guys buffalo (back then when they were more popular).  In most common practices the man gives the women’s family animals but here it is reverse. Well, in his case he did not get one buffalo but five buffalo.  He also shared the gong music (see video) and some homemade wine that is made from leaves not grapes. It tasted a bit grainy but good. 

We then went to see a flower farm where they grew beautiful long stem roses. You buy one now for 1,000 dong which is like less than $0.10. During valentine’s day they sell for around $1.00. We then went to see how they make brooms.  Here in Vietnam they use everything.  From plants they make brooms.  It was really neat to see because we go into a store and purchase a broom but in Vietnam they use this broom. From there we went to a silk farm. This was really cool. I saw the different stages of how they make silk. I had no idea but silk comes from a animal cocoon.  When it spins its cocoon it creates the silk.  First they soak the cocoon in what looks like water. Then machines carefully take the silk off the cocoon.  On each cocoon is a lot of thread too. My tour guide (Ocean) said that the silk could stretch from Vietnam to NY.  The left over animals from inside to cocoon are sold and eaten (yuck).  After it is on the spools they then need to dry it which it’s transferred to a larger machine with heat coming out from the bottom.   From there it’s put onto Spools and ready for use.  You can also dye the silk different colors. From there we went to Linh An Pagoda which houses a Happy Buddha.  I tried to rub his belly but he was way too big for me to reach.  From there we walk to see the Elephant waterfalls. From up top it looked really cool but my guide was like, come on. So I followed. As we walked down, the path seemed a bit… home made. It was steep and not very … safe. The rocks we walked over were far apart or were broken bits of stone placed there for people to walk on. At one point we walked on a fallen tree in between two huge rocks to get to the next part. But when we got there we were completely underneath the waterfalls. It was very cool and very wet. But then again, I was already wet and disgusting from the motorbike ride. After the falls we went and ate Pho (pronounced fur) which is the national soup of Vietnam.  It’s basically a noodle soup and you can get it with beef, chicken, or veggies.  I’ve eaten it before, but he showed me what to put in it. I didn’t know but there was a peanut sauce container on the table so we added that, garlic (yum), and lime. Also he taught me to eat with chop sticks. In Vietnam everyone eats with chopsticks. Sometimes you’ll spot someone eating with a fork or spoon, but at the age of one, they start teaching children to eat with chopsticks and that includes using them to eat soup too.  As we drove along the country side my guide sang to me various songs from Vietnam.  He also showed me the sleeping plant again. I saw this first in Costa Rica when I did my homestay.  Vietnam also has it (see video). The scenery was beautiful, mountains covered with fog. Vegetables that grows all year long including green beans, cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, and pumpkins.  The weather allows them to grow vegetables and fruits all year.  We ended the trip by seeing a house called, "The Crazy House".  It’s a fun house that you can actually sleep in. It’s a house that was made to be like an adventure.  He also took me on a tour around the city and market of Dalat.  Overall, the ride was beautiful, the weather sucked, and Mom, I am so thankful I borrowed the quick drying pants and for the keen shoes.  It was perfect for this trip.

So now I am showed and in cozy sweat pants and a long sleeve tee.  My alarm clock says its around 68 degrees Farenhight.  It’s cold considering in Saigon it was around 87 degrees. Since the weather here is so crummy, I am leaving tomorrow which makes me sad. I posted a blog on Lonely Planet’s thorntree to see how the weather is in Nha Trang. Someone replied that it’s beautiful and is around 26 degrees Celsius so around 79 degrees Farenheight. Tomorrow I’ll endure another 7 hour bus ride down the mountain and along the cost of Vietnam. 
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